It’s been said that in the past decade, telecommuters have increased by 115%. Telecommuting is an attractive alternative for many employees for a variety of reasons. Flexible work hours, spending quality time with family are two of the most popular. Regardless of why telecommuters prefer their lifestyle, HR will still need to function as if the employee is ‘onsite’ as any employee would be. Let’s take a look at a few areas where managing HR will need to adjust with their remote employees.
Managing an employee, you do not see daily will need technology to offset a few in-house activities that would normally occur. Indeed, today’s technology is proving to work better at supporting the remote worker relationship with HR to the point some evidence is showing an increase in both job satisfaction and preference to choose telecommuting as an alternative.
It is still important that proper management practices are in place for remote workers to keep them engaged with the company. With respect to monitoring performance, timesheets or online time tracking can help a company keep track of employee productivity.
Video meetings, check-ins or regular phone calls to see how they’re doing works well. Just be sure not to make it too often where they may feel micromanaged but regularly enough so that they still feel part of the company.
Telecommuters will naturally have flexible schedules so it’s a good idea to make sure that part of their schedules do overlap with other department employees so they can work together online using any number of communication tools.
HR will need to be aware of remote worker’s home states and what payroll regulations would be required to be followed in order for a proper paycheck to be issued to the remote worker. Using a payroll service provider to handle payroll across multiple states will help to ensure that the proper state taxes are being filed for each employee. Depending on the city, state or country of the remote worker, payroll compliance may include:
- Minimum wage
- Withholding income tax
- Regulations for leaves of absence
- Concerns over common ownership
- Worker compensation regulations
- Mandatory information on paystubs
- Payday frequency
- Paycheck delivery
- Requirements for payroll deduction
- Calculation of overtime
Hiring and Firing
Process wise, hiring and firing are fairly closely related when considering onsite employees versus remote workers. Face-to-face interviews, assessment skills and determining if someone is a good fit are aspects that are all somewhat the same either way.
Terminating an employee is similar in that access codes, login credentials, and other administrative procedures would be similar to an onsite employee. Final pay requirements should be checked according to the state requirements, for example, there are varying laws governing when the final paycheck must be issued, what’s included on it, etc.
Another consideration is in the actual delivery of the termination to the soon to be ex-employee. Regardless of location, it is best to do the termination face-to-face, whether it is an in-office meeting or through video communication (e.g. skype). Though a video call may initially be seen as impersonal for some, it is still the best way outside of a real face-to-face meeting.
Safety in the workplace
Remote employees working for your company directly will still need to respect and follow workplace health and safety legislation. To what level this is regarding employer responsibility wise is still a bit unclear.
OSHA has stated for the record that they will not conduct at home inspections and will not hold employers responsible for at-home safety concerns. There is still a grey area though as some litigation shows OSHA claiming that employers are responsible to ensure safe working conditions for their employees regardless of location.
Running a business takes a tremendous effort and lots of hard work. Telecommuting, without a doubt, has added another layer to the complexity of how HR manages the business. Keeping on top of regulatory changes, communicating with remote worker supervisor management, and trends in remote worker relationships are key staying ahead of the game.